Thursday, August 20, 2020

Improving Writing Skills with Structure and Style for Students {A Homeschool Review Crew Review}

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

One of the subjects I haven't been focusing on very well in our homeschool has been teaching the children to write. Not handwriting, but the mechanics of proper writing. Let me tell you a little secret. This is a subject I am not the greatest in myself, so I am not quite sure how to properly teach the children. So, I was thrilled when we were given the opportunity for the younger children to try out Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level A from the Institute for Excellence in Writing®. This is a company we have come to know and love. The children recognized Mr. Pudewa's voice from when we reviewed Developing Linguistic Skills Through Poetry Memorization several years ago. Plus the older girls had used Phonetic Zoo for their spelling.

IEW®'s Structure and Style® for Students curriculum is available at three different levels. Level A is for children reading at a 3rd-5th grade level, Level B is for children reading at a 6th-8th grade level, and Level C is for children reading at a 9th grade level or higher. Currently only Year 1 is available; however, Year 2 is expected to be released next spring. 

The Structure and Style curriculum for each of the levels is 24 weeks in length. It's composed of both physical and digital components. We received both the Teacher's Manual and the Student Binder in the mail, and we were given access to the online "Forever Streaming" video lessons via an activation code on the instruction card that came in the binder. These lessons are available to us as long as we need them and can be used by multiple children. We are also allowed to photocopy the student materials for use within our family. 

This writing curriculum focuses on the following skills in seven units:
  • Unit 1: Note Making and Outlines
  • Unit 2: Writing From Notes
  • Unit 3: Retelling Narrative Stories
  • Unit 4: Summarizing a Reference
  • Unit 5: Writing From Pictures
  • Unit 6: Summarizing Multiple References
  • Unit 7: Inventive Writing
A Scope and Sequence tells us what reading passage we will be reading in each lesson in the units, the "style" we will be working on, if any (not every lesson has a new style to learn), plus literature suggestions. 

There are daily lessons laid out in a chart that is available in both the teacher manual and the student's sheets. There are even suggestions on how to adapt the schedule for homeschool versus classroom setting and different weekly schedules. Both the videos and the physical portion are necessary for the program. Each week the students will view the lesson with Mr. Pudewa teaching, during which he will tell them to get out specific sheets for that section of the lesson. 

Mr. Pudewa is teaching a group of students in a classroom setting, utilizing both the student sheets and a whiteboard. As viewers we can listen to his and the children's answers and then pause the video and discuss the lesson ourselves. These videos range from around 40 minutes in length to an hour and 15 minutes, with the average being just over an hour in length. The daily breakdown suggestion is to watch the first half of the video and work on the lesson and then watch the second half the next day. At the beginning of this course, the additional days are used for retelling the story from the Key Words Outline; however, the workload then increases, where students are expected to use those days to write their rough draft and then final draft of their story, using the notes they have taken, and making sure to include the style, or dress-up that has been learned. 

The children learn to read through the stories, one sentence at a time, underlining and writing three key words. 

The rules for the key words are explained.

Then we also learn about the different ways we can "dress up" our writing, such as adding -ly adverbs or the problem way to add who/which clauses, using strong verbs, and more.

Then the children are to rewrite the story, using the keyword outline to help them remember the story, and using the different "dress-ups." They are to write a rough draft, which I then edit. Then I rewrite it for them, and have them copy. I don't plan on doing the rewrites throughout the course; however, the children weren't used to having to skip lines, and they wanted to start a new line for every sentence, so I want to make sure they get used to how they should be writing by copying mine for a while.

There are also worksheet type pages as we work through the curriculum.

I appreciate that the Teacher Manual includes and inset of the student page, along with notes for the parent/teacher.

Plus a look at the "Board Notes" to help guide the children after the video is over. 

And can I just say, I absolutely love Mr. Pudewa's humorous style of teaching, and the anecdotes he includes and the fun they are having in the class. For instance, during the story of The Fox and the Stork, he slyly played a game of hangman using an -ly adverb that was quite tricky to figure out. 

We are very much enjoying joining in with this class on their writing journey, learning to look for key words and learning about new dress ups to add to our writing. I love the incremental approach, where we have been learning new styles as we go along, and having to remember to use them in the rewrites. I appreciate that both fiction and nonfiction passages are included. And I love that we are working on vocabulary during the course. I definitely recommend Structure and Style for Students, and plan on using it throughout the coming school year with the children. 

You can find the Institute for Excellence in Writing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Don't forget to click on the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about Structure and Style for Students. You will find reviews for each of the three levels.

Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level A, B & C {Institute for Excellence in Writing® Reviews}

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